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Want to Finish Your Year Strong? Stop and Reset Your Plan

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What if I said you could gain 600 minutes by spending an hour planning? Would you do it?

Brian Tracy, a recognized authority on achievement and leadership says,

 “Every minute you spend in planning saves 10 minutes in execution; this gives you a 1,000 percent Return on Energy!”

I’ve experienced the multiplier effect of planning many times in my work and personal life. Planning helped me pull my wedding together in 3 months (without a wedding planner) while juggling several international work trips. And planning made it possible for my team at a former company to roll out its first international acquisition across 7 times zones.

Planning leads to results. That’s why I hit the “reset” button last Friday and took a Planning day. Though the plan may evolve, having one makes me pretty optimistic about reaching my three big goals for my business by December.

Think of it as having the customized directions that Google Maps or Waze gives you to get to your destination. If a crash happens, you might change some of the steps but you’ll still move to your destination.

Why Now Is the Time to Stop and Reset Your Plan

You give yourself the advantage of taking a strategic view of the 4th quarter

There’s a frenzy that often builds up in September as people gear up for the end of the year and the holidays. Taking time out now will prevent you from falling into a whirlwind of activity without thought. (If your fiscal year ends in September, then you’re giving yourself the gift of strategically looking at the new fiscal year).

You still have time to complete a big project or drive a major result

There are three opportunity-filled months left in the year. Even if you take winter holidays into account, you have 85 days to achieve important things in your business.

You and your team will be more effective for the remainder of the year

The global management consulting firm, McKinsey & Company says that they find top teams achieve their objectives more quickly if they slow down. Reset your plan and you slow down. Slow down and your team’s productivity will actually speed up because they have more focus.

How to Reset Your Plan

You can take one of two approaches to reset your plan. Use the first if your goals are fuzzy or you don’t have a plan; use the second if you’re crystal-clear on the big goals you’re gunning for by December 31st.

Approach #1: Commit to Three Goals, Create a 90-Day Plan to Support Them

If you’re not clear on your goals for the end of the year, do these three things:

  1. Decide on 3 big goals. You may want to write down all the big goals you want to accomplish, then narrow them to three.
  2. Make the goals crystal clear, e.g. get 5 new clients to sign a 6-month retainer agreement, and ensure they are a priority. Smartsheet’s S.M.A.R.T goal setting exercise if you need some help.
  3. Determine the steps you need to take to accomplish each goal. Make sure each step has a date and a name responsible for it. Bonus: put your tasks in a task management system, like Asana, if you use one.
  4. Note the milestones, then put these and the goals in a 90-day plan.

Approach #2: Evaluate Your Goals, Make Adjustments to Your Plan, and Write Out the Actions Needed to Support the Adjustments

If you’re clear on your goals for the end of the year, do this:

  1. Assess how you’re doing against the goals based on your metrics for success.
  2. Ask: “What’s working?” and “What’s not working?”
  3. Write down the adjustments you need to make based on your answers.
  4. Identify the action steps needed to implement the adjustments and/or finish the plan, Make sure each step has a date and name responsible for it so you can work the 90-day plan.

Use These Six Tips to Execute Your Plan and Achieve Your Goals by December

  1. Write down why your goals matter to you, your team and your business.
  2. Make sure each goal has a number next to it. Numbers don’t lie; they’ll tell you if you’ve met your goal.
  3. Set a target of date of Dec. 15th to achieve your goals. Things start slowing down around Thanksgiving and you’ll start to get lots of out of office emails by December 20th due to the winter holidays.
  4. Schedule time weekly to track progress against these goals.
  5. Check-in weekly with the team working on these goals to see if they need help.
  6. Be accountable for progress by sharing it with someone, like a colleague, coach or mastermind group. This keeps you honest when you struggle to make progress and gives you others to bounce ideas off of.

Don’t Wait; Make Time Today to Reset Your Plan

Block time on your calendar for at least 90 minutes and consider your team. Hold this like you would an important client appointment; i.e. DO NOT MOVE IT unless absolutely necessary. You may need more time but 90 minutes will give you 80% of what you need.

Do the hard work of writing down your three goals with action steps and dates. Make sure key dates and milestones are on a 90-day calendar.

Share your action plan with your team, business buddy or another accountability partner.

We’ll be wishing each other “Happy New Year” before you know it, so do this as soon as possible. You owe it to yourself, those you’re leading and your business to increase the odds of ending the year well.

Photo by Cathryn Lavery on Unsplash